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Group submits petition to recall Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant

Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant. (Seattle Channel)

A petition to recall City Councilmember Kshama Sawant was submitted Tuesday morning, accusing her of misusing her position as an elected Seattle leader.

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The petition, submitted by Seattle resident Ernie Lou on behalf of the “Recall City of Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant Committee,” lays out a series of allegations, including:

  • That Sawant misused council resources to promote a ballot initiative in early February
  • That she violated City hiring rules by giving decision-making authority to Socialist Alternative
  • That she revealed the address of Mayor Durkan’s home to protesters who later marched to her home
  • That she endangered City employees by admitted hundreds of protesters into City Hall after hours
  • That she “created a criminal environment” in the East Precinct area of Capitol Hill that ultimately led to the creation of the CHOP

Many of the accusations levied in the recall petition have come up frequently throughout Sawant’s tenure on the dais. In 2019, council candidate Logan Bowers filed a complaint with the Seattle Ethics and Election Commission (SEEC) over the accusation Sawant handed over hiring (as well as voting) decisions to Socialist Alternative. The SEEC dismissed that complaint in March of 2019.

Sawant has also denied organizing a protest that took place outside of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s home, although she did speak at the demonstration. Durkan’s address is redacted in official documents over threats made against her during her time as a U.S. Attorney.

The mayor had previously called on councilmembers to investigate several of the allegations laid out in Lou’s petition, a request the council rejected in early July.

Lou describes himself as a moderate Democrat and a “bleeding heart liberal,” having voted for Egan Orion, the challenger to Sawant’s District 3 seat, last November. Sawant ultimately won reelection after a surge of late votes swung in her favor.

Despite that, Lou says he doesn’t believe Sawant is acting in the best interest of her district.

“I think everything that Sawant is doing is totally not supporting the views of the majority of people in District 3,” he told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show.

The petition was filed with King County Elections, and will soon be forwarded to the county Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. King County Attorney Dan Satterberg will then “conduct a technical review to determine whether the filing meets the statutory requirements to move forward,” King County Elections told MyNorthwest in a written statement.

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If approved, the petition would move into the signature gathering phase. Lou would have until March to collect just over 10,700 certified paper signatures from registered voters, a number that would constitute 25% of total votes cast in the last District 3 election.

That would then trigger a simple “yes” or “no” recall vote, which would have to take place on a previously scheduled election date. If Lou gathers enough signatures in time, the earliest possible date for a recall vote would be a special election on Feb. 9, 2021.

Lou’s recall committee has already collected $15,000 in donations to the campaign, as well as several emails from District 3 residents voicing support for the effort.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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